Researchers Go from Hurricane Ida to Icy Cyclone

Article ID: 558454

Released: 10-Nov-2009 7:00 AM EST

Source Newsroom: University of Alabama Huntsville

Newswise — A team of university researchers and students on the Gulf Coast to study Hurricane Ida as it comes ashore will head north later this week to study a potentially snowy cyclone as it spins across the Midwest.

The two storms, while they are about 1,500 miles apart, might have a lot in common, says the professor who leads this research project.

"By the time it comes ashore, Ida might have a cool eye at its center," said Dr. Kevin Knupp, an atmospheric science professor who leads the severe weather research team at The University of Alabama in Huntsville.

"Typically the transition from warm to cool happens inland or when hurricanes are blown further north in the Atlantic, but the late season cooler air is driving Ida's transition at landfall.

"We're interested in studying how the boundary layers in the hurricane's structure change as it moves from water onto land."

Because it might have a cool eye when it comes ashore, Ida might have a structure similar to a low pressure system the team will study later this week somewhere between Iowa and Minneapolis, Minnesota.

In these "mid-latitude" cyclones (or low pressure systems), warmer air is pulled up from the south. It rises as it circles the low pressure center.

Researchers would like to know how that vertical motion contributes to the heavy rain and snow associated with those systems, whether they are land falling hurricanes or Northern low-pressure systems.

The UAHuntsville team uses a portable weather research center that includes two Doppler radar units and a suite of instruments designed to gather detailed information about whatever weather might be passing overhead. Ida is the tenth hurricane or tropical storm to be intercepted and studied by UAHuntsville researchers and students.

After Ida passes, the hurricane team will rush back to campus. They might have less than two days to refuel and swap T-shirts and flip flops for parkas and mukluks before heading north to join a multi-university team that is studying blizzards.


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